(August 22, 2022) Robert and Maureen McQuillan ask…
Ever had a challenge, even a simple one and your decision was along the lines above? Huh? Even though it had to do with your ministry, current or future?
Or simply a life choice.
Life is full of them! Every new day we have to make them! Right from the moment we awake… deciding to get up, what to wear, which brekkie, then decisions whether at home or at business about this and that throughout the day!
Come to think about it, we had to decide to write this article!
Dictionaries tell us that ‘decision’ means ‘a choice that you make about something after thinking about several possibilities.’ So decisions and choices link together. Scripture too mentions this word ‘decision’… as you’ll find in various versions.
Decision-making isn’t always easy… but it has to be done for various reasons, some easy, some difficult.
Even Jesus had to make hard decisions
There came a moment in His life, His ministry, when Jesus had to make a very hard decision – whether or not to move ahead, even at great personal cost.
Luke 9:51NKJV records that ‘When the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.’
‘Steadfastly set His face.’ That’s how the NKJV above, Darby and MKJV read – and it sounds pretty determined, very serious to us! So we checked some other versions and found they read similarly –
- CJB: ‘Made His decision.’
- ESV and LIVT: ‘Set His face.’
- Geneva (that 1560 ‘old English’ version, way before the ‘old’ KJV): ‘Setled himselfe fully.’
- GNB and NRiV: ‘Made up His mind.’
- JB Phillips: ‘He resolved.’
- Message: ‘Gathered up His courage and steeled Himself.’
- NIV and NLT: ‘Resolutely set out.’
- NASB: ‘Was determined.’
- TLB: ‘Moved steadily onward… with an iron will.’
- TPT: ‘Passionately determined… let nothing distract Him from fulfilling His mission…’
- Weymouth: ‘Proceeded with fixed purpose.’
Hmm. Just realised we’ve hit on 17 versions. Could have typed less, or more! Key thought: Contemplating on Luke 9:51 in the light of decision-making, one is so aware there’s something very important here that’s not to be missed! Coincidently, some Bible scholars say the biblical number 17 is one of scriptural order, meaning ‘complete victory.’ That Jesus gained complete victory over death when God resurrected Him on Nisan 17 (Saturday, April 8, 30 AD)… (eg Conner’s Interpreting the Symbols and Types, Bullinger’s Numbers in Scripture, scripturalthinking.com/17th-nisan).
But, hey, we’re not building a ‘17 doctrine’… but drawing attention to Jesus making a hard decision that goes beyond any we’ll ever make!
‘Steadfastly set’ is stērizō, meaning literally ‘to turn resolutely in a certain direction.’ It’s obvious that Jesus was very decided in His choice to move on to do something crazy!
That decision was to go to Jerusalem, further into His God-planned future – no matter what happened, whatever it cost Him! And cost Him it did… so much, becoming our Saviour. Accused, mocked, beaten and ruthlessly scrouged even before being made to carry His cross, exhausted as He must have been, outside Jerusalem’s walls to Calvary, to be cruelly nailed to it!
Knowing what lay ahead, it was no wonder He said, ‘Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends’(John 15:13ESB). And he had previously said in John 10:11, ’I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.’ Wow!
When, Matthew 16:22 tells us, Jesus tried to tell His disciples what was going to happen to Him on reaching Jerusalem, Peter immediately reacted rebukingly: ‘Never, Lord!… This shall never happen to you!’ Our lingo would probably have been rougher: ‘No way, man! Are you crazy? You’re not doing that!’
Aware what was about to shortly begin happening to Him, in anguish and with sweat like great drops of blood, Jesus pleaded most earnestly with His loving Father God (Luke 22:24)… yet never said, ‘Are you crazy? I’m not doing that!’ No, verse 42 tells us that He humbly acquiesced and said, ‘Yet not my will, but yours be done.’
Some commentators’ thoughts…
John Wesley (right): ‘He steadfastly set his face – Without fear of His enemies, or shame of the cross (Hebrews 12:2).’
Matthew Henry was strong here when he wrote: ‘… Jerusalem the place where He was to suffer and die. He was fully determined to go, and would not be dissuaded.’
When F.B. Meyer quoted Isaiah in his commentary, ‘Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame’ – he really challenged followers of Christ: ‘The Master’s steadfast face rebukes us! Alas, we so often flinch and cannot appropriate (Isaiah 50:7). But whether we follow afar off or closely, that lithe, alert, eager figure is always in front and taking the upward path.’
Jesus was so set on pleasing His Father not Himself, consummating God’s salvation plan, fulfilling His destiny: He was so determined that nothing would distract Him or hold Him back! No flinching here!
Do we cringe?
Do we always follow closely, or do we flinch and back away from serving Jesus… even on some ‘no sweat’ occasion that come up to bless someone in a way that leads them to think about God?
Simple example: Needing a certain hardware item, we called at a well-known store this morning. Unable to find what we needed, I left Maureen to go look for help and found one of the store’s serving team. Extremely friendly and helpful, he kindly asked how we were and in turn we enquired about him.
As John (not real name) shared a nasty medical trouble he had, I immediately felt God wanted me to pray for him and was about to when he also mentioned his partner’s serious health issues – adding a few choice descriptive words to the medical terms, unaware that we’re ministers!
For a moment, I thought about not praying, nor bringing the Lord’s name into the conversation! But, to recall the Weymouth translation, I ‘proceeded with fixed purpose’ and said quietly, ‘John, sorry to hear that. We want to pray for you and your lady.’ No, we didn’t embarrass him: the aisle was clear of other customers.
He didn’t object and I simply laid my hand on his stomach and, naming both parties, prayed a short but meaningful prayer of blessing, asking for healing in Jesus name. Maureen instantly joined with me, reaching out too. We didn’t make a point of saying that we are ministers… it was simply a Holy Spirit connection that any Christian can get involved in!
‘John’ was surprised for a moment, then thanked us. Obviously deeply touched, he carried the awkward-to-carry item we purchased out to our car, put it onboard and, most interestingly, as he left to return to the store, turned and with a warm smile said something we like to say to any store assistant – ‘God bless you.’ We’re believing we had got him thinking! Guess who and what we’ll be talking about when very soon we pop back in with another hardware excuse of seeing him?
Some decisions God made
Decision-making means choosing to do something, hopefully always a good choice. Holy scripture tells of several major decisions God made, such as…
- Creation – ‘Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us”’ (Genesis 1:26NLT). ‘Said’ is ‘âmar, a word of great latitude including considering determining.
- Abraham – God chose him (Genesis 18:19), someone who would be his friend (2 Chronicles 20:7).
- Israel – God decided on Israel as His treasured possession (Deuteronomy 14:2).
Jesus made decisions beyond Luke 9:51 above…
- In Luke 6:13Mge we read of a very important choice Jesus made (after praying all night)… ‘He summoned his disciples; from them He selected twelve…’
- Jesus reaffirmed this in John15:16, ‘You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you…’
Bible characters who made hard decisions…
What a shock he must had had on learning his young betrothed was pregnant. He could have said, ‘You crazy? No way am I marrying you!’ But Matthew 1:19CJB says he ‘was a man who did what was right’ and didn’t want to ‘put her to public shame.’
Then on visitation by an angel in a dream, he made the hard decision to not only become Mary’s husband but refrain from consummating their marriage until after the birth of Jesus. And parenting a child not biologically his. And having to flee to Egypt guarding them both. And living there for some time until it was safe to return home. And passing his carpentry skills on to his stepson. Never do we read of Joseph flinching or complaining!
No wonder this young girl was ‘greatly troubled at his words’ when visited by the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:29) and told her she would supernaturally conceive a child, ‘the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; His kingdom will never end’(v32-33).
The disturbed young lady’s response? ‘Are you crazy…’ No, it was ‘I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to do whatever He wants.’(v38TLB). No flinching here either!
- Check your concordance for other hard decisions such as Paul and other biblical characters willingly made.
What about you?
Got you frightened? What decision has God challenged you with? Hmm? To unflinchingly witness to someone… neighbour, store assistant, workmate, child, some nasty person?
Or move job, church, state? Donate in addition to your local church tithe to a missionary reaching the unreached? Take on a pastorate? Or… whatever.
When God is asking, don’t ever respond negatively! You can do or be whatever God has called you to do or be. You wouldn’t believe the excuses we would make before discovering the help of the one who was with Jesus – the Holy Spirit – and allowed Him to take control and enable us! It can be the same for you.or you.
Jesus knew that when He went back to heaven (where He intercedes for Christians. Read A Better Covenant), His disciples would feel lost, so inadequate, friendless. So He gave them this great promise… ‘I will talk to the Father, and He’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth’ (John 14:16-17aMge).
That friend is the blessed Holy Spirit! So… remember, no more ‘Are you crazy? I’m doing that!’
Dr Robert & Pastor Maureen McQuillan’s links: OnlinerConnect@gmail.com and Facebook
I am so glad the Holy Spirit is with us as make ‘life decisions’ — some of them may indeed seem crazy to us now — and I can look back and say thank you Lord that even if I didn’t know what I was doing, or even where I was going, You had it all in hand.